Tuesday, 31 March 2015

West Stockwith March 2015 - Part 2

 Naughty-Cal moored up in the basin.

 Devocean and Purple Haze in the lock.

 Jiggin Jonny entering the lock.

 Purple Haze and Devocean moored up.

 Naughty-Cal from across the basin.

 Wind over tide making it choppy for Anna.

 Thousand Rivers rounding the corner to the lock.

 Sole Mate limping to West Stockwith.

Anna and Thousand Rivers moored up in the basin.

Monday, 30 March 2015

West Stockwith March 2015 - Part 1

Better late then never. These pictures are from our trip to West Stockwith last weekend!

 Busy Torksey visitor moorings on Saturday morning.

 All waiting for the off.

 Naughty-Cal heading the group.

 Still waiting.

Jiggin Jonny, the new boat and crew to the group.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Job Two

Job two of the weekend was successfully completed yesterday,  fitting the new electric element in the hot water tank. We now have hot water in demand when plugged in.

Gaining access to the tank was easier said than done mind.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Job One

So job one for the day is in progress.  Filling the fuel tank.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Booked In

In contrast to a lot of our inland cruising there is a lot of planning goes into our trips on the coast. 

Our seemingly simple hop across the Wash to Kings Lynn entails a fair amount of leg work before the cruise can even begin.

First up was checking that the tide times, tide heights and Grand Sluice opening hours were all favourable for us to even make the trip, and whilst they are this time they are far from ideal. We will leave Boston late on Saturday afternoon and won't arrive at Kings Lynn until between 6.00-7.00pm depending on what time we have enough water to leave Boston. With the small tides we will have it should be closer to 4pm than 5pm that we can leave. On the way back we will be leaving early on the Monday morning arriving back in Boston by 8.30am, so although we are paying for two nights on the pontoons we will really only have one full day in Kings Lynn.

With the tides checked it is time to book passage through the Grand Sluice at Boston. Despite the name this is a tiny little lock working funny tide hours depending on the height of the tides and the non tidal river. Its all a bit of a balancing act. Usually we head out on these trips two hours before high water, however this time the tides are so small we may be able to get out three hours before which will be nice as it will give us extra time in Kings Lynn.

Unlike inland cruising we have also had to book and pay for a berth on the pontoons in advance to reserve our spot. Its a long way to go to find out that they are full up when you arrive! The office staff are really very helpful and last time we were there they even popped down onto the pontoon to check that everything was ok with our visit. It really does make all the difference. The other bonus here is that the mooring fees are really very reasonable at £10.50 per night for a 23ft boat. 

There is also the task of ensuring we have enough fuel for the trip. We have done this trip previously so know that if we fill the tank tomorrow at the marina that this will be enough to get us from Lincoln to Kings Lynn and back again on the same tank. There won't be loads left but enough, although we plan to refill the tank at Geordies on the way back up river, we always like to pop in and say hello on our way back up river. It also means we will get back home with almost a full tank of fuel which is always nice. I don't really like running the tank too low as it always feels more of an ordeal to then refuel it at a later date. Strange I know.

This weekend I am also going to check the latest buoy positions against the ones we have plottted in our chart plotter. It is 18 months since we last visited so no doubt some of them will have changed. From memory there are some really quite odd channel markers in the Lynn channel so better to have the right positions for them, don't want to land on a sand bank this early in the year!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Final Prep Work

This weekend we will be making our final preparations before our trip across the Wash next weekend to Kings Lynn.

It is now confirmed that we will be the only boat from Lincoln making the trip but that doesn't put us off, we have done it on our own before so we will go alone again. At least this time we will have some company when we get there.

So this weekend we have a few relatively minor jobs to finish off. First up will be filling the fuel tank up. After last weekends high speed tests we could do with about a 100 litres of so to brim the tank. On Sunday night we will also fill up the water tank so that we are ready to go as soon as we get to the marina on Friday evening.

The next jobs will be fitting the new electric element in the hot water tank. This has been playing up for some time now but it is one of those jobs we have always just put off, for good reason. The tank is incredibly difficult to get access too and the engine was heating the water anyway so we still had hot water unless we stayed in one place for more than a day. But finally we decided as almost everything else on the boat was now working we should really get around to sorting out the problem. So we have a new element to fit which should hopefully cure the problem and mean that we have hot water again from the electric hook up or the new inverter, although we will still run the engine with the inverter at work, it will heat the water much quicker than the engine alone, which struggles to heat the water moored up on tick over.

Next up is servicing the manual bilge pump. We discovered at the back end of last year that this was not working as it should and was struggling to pump water. So hopefully a new service kit should see this working again and pumping water. Of course we hope that we will never need it but it is nice to know that if we do it will be working.

With the immersion heater fixed and the manual bilge pump serviced it is then back to mundane tasks like changing bedding, cleaning the cockpit upholstery, scrubbing the canopies, polishing the dashboard, decluttering cupboards (although to be fair they are not really that bad we are getting better at keeping on top of the clutter!).

Fingers crossed by the end of this weekend we will be ready to go.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Potential Problem

So after a perfect shake down cruise for Naughty-Cal we are now faced with a potential problem with our trip to Kings Lynn at Easter.

Yesterday afternoon Canal and Rivers Trust issued this navigation notice:

"Notice Alert

River Witham

Starts At: Lock 2, Bardney Lock
Ends At: Lock 1, Stamp End Lock

Tuesday 24 March 2015 until Friday 27 March 2015 23:59

Type: Advice
Reason: 3rd Party Works

Original message:

We would just like to warn boaters that the EA are currently struggling to maintain water levels in the pound from Bardney Lock to Stamp End Lock.

They are working to rectify the problem as quickly as possible.

You can view this notice and its map online here:


Hopefully they can rectify the problem in the next week or so, otherwise it looks like our plans will be scuppered by river levels, and not the usual problem of high water levels but low water levels. 

Fingers crossed for a swift resolution.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

All is Well

Our weekend cruise to West Stockwith was always intended as a shake down cruise to highlight any problems with the boat after a winter ashore before we head across the Wash to Kings Lynn at Easter.

It proved just one thing for us, that Naughty-Cal was indeed in fine fettle and ready for her first coastal cruise of the year.

It was almost as though she was happy of the chance to blow away the winter cobwebs, lift up her skirt and stretch her legs. With her bow pointed downstream she needed little encouragement to jump onto the plane and with the turbo singing away she soon ate up the miles, turning into the tight corners with precision and ease. Naughty-Cal was back on form.

Sadly for a couple of the boat crews it also highlighted major problems. One boat limping the majority of the way there and back on one engine as one of their stern drives developed major mechanical problems that could not be rectified without lifting the boat. The boat is now on the hardstanding at Burton Waters awaiting diagnosis.

It is now increasingly likely that we will be the only boat from Lincoln making the trip to Kings Lynn at Easter, but never mind. We did the trip across on our own last time and when we get there we will have company from Goole and from up the Great Ouse at St Neots. 

Lastly the picture above was taken my one of our group Mandi as Thousand Rivers waited for the lock at Stockwith. With the mish mash of boat sizes we had we had to make plenty of lockings to get all of the boats in the basin, which of course resulted in plenty of people waiting their turn on the river.

Monday, 23 March 2015

A Fine Weekend

Well what a weekend. It has been a busy one with lots going on but it has been a great shake down cruise for us and has highlighted a few problems for others but more on those in the coming days.

Unfortunately I have managed to leave my camera on the boat, along with a few others things, my bank card included. So you will have to wait a while for the pictures I have taken. For now here are a few taken by others over the weekend.

 Thousand Rivers on the Trent.

 Jiggin Jonny stretching her legs.

 Sole Mate having an unexpected break at Gainsborough.

 Thousand Rivers waiting for the lock at West Stockwith.

 Naughty-Cal enjoying herself at Gainsborough.

Anna heading for West Stockwith.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Back on the Ditch

We have made it back onto the ditch safe and sound after yet another faultless effort from Naughty-Cal.

More pictures to follow of what has been a great weekend.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Made It

All would appear to be good with Naughty-Cal. We have had a great run down the Trent and Naughty-Cal didn't put a foot wrong making a very respectable 31 knots which with the hoods up and against the tide was a great effort.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Weekend Starts Here

We are off on our weekend adventure starting with an evening cruise to Torksey.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Trent Bound

This weekend will be Naughty-Cal's first real test of the year after all of the mechanical works carried out over the winter.

So far in the last couple of weekends she has proven to be running fine whilst plodding along at river speeds, which we hope would have highlighted any potential problems and given the new shaft a bit of time to bed into it's new surroundings. 

The weekend will bring the first real stress test, a high speed run to West Stockwith around the twists and turns of the Trent below Gainsborough Bridge. 

It has all of the hallmarks of a great weekend with a group of us meeting up at the White Swan on Friday evening for a bite to eat, and then a morning run to West Stockwith on Saturday before thirty hungry mouths descend on the White Hart for dinner then head to the West Stockwith Yacht Club to watch a band. In total we have seven boats making the journey from Burton Waters with a few staying in caravans behind the Waterside Inn.

It could be a lively one!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Still Dismayed

Welcome to Lincoln!

These are the scenes that welcome visitors to the city, waters strewn with rubbish.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015


This weekend was our first chance to test out our new 2000 watt inverter which Liam installed last weekend. Previously we have had a series of smaller 300 watt units but have always managed to inadvertently overload them and kill them, usually by forgetting to switch off the battery charger or the hot water. So this time we have installed a much bigger unit which should hopefully be able survive brief accidental loads.

We didn't try it out until Sunday in the end when I cooked two huge lamb shanks in the slow cooker. The inverter powered this no problems, but then again we expected it too as the smaller inverter had always managed fine with the low power required to power it. It was nice to be cruising along once more with the boat filled with the aroma of cooking lamb in a mint and leek gravy.

We also found that it managed just fine boiling the little kettle. We tried this with the engine running as we were cruising back along the ditch from Torkey and it worked just fine also. As expected it does take a lot of power from the batteries to power the kettle so we will only use it whilst the engine is running and the alternator can keep up with the power demands, otherwise our batteries will be toast in no time at all, as we only fitted these last May we really don't want to kill them just yet.

With the testing over we can now get on with cruising with 240v power available once more. Although we never really use it that much, it is nice to have the option. It will be nice for example on Friday evening to cruise the 8 miles to Torksey with the electric blanket on knowing that the bed will be nice and warmed through for us. 

I can't wait.

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Heavy Weekend

It has been a heavy weekend what with a couple of birthdays to celebrate one on Friday in the boat club and the other on Saturday night in The White Swan at Torksey. Time now to give the livers a rest before next weekends session begins.

Naughty-Cal proved to perform faultlessly again this weekend and the new inverter we installed last weekend has proven to be capable of all we intended for it to do. It was nice to be able to use the slow cooker again whilst we are out cruising. I have missed having a hot meal ready to eat after a days cruising in the cold weather.

As we are heading out onto the tidal Trent next weekend to give Naughty-Cal her first high speed test of the year we have decided to take the heaters out of the engine bay. We are now fully dewinterised for the year. It's nice to have some space back in the boat, although the heaters do a sterling job of keeping the boat warm and frost free, they do take up a lot of space in a small boat. Now Cal is in her fully stripped down summer mode.

Hopefully she is up for her first test of 2015.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Can you guess which boat is Naughty-Cal?

Some friends spotted her from the balcony of the Electric Bar on Friday evening. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Birthday Bumbling

It's another day of bumbling along today for us and Naughty-Cal. We have cruised the ditch to Torksey where tonight we are eating in the White Swan for a friend's birthday celebrations.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Oh Dear

The Norfolk Broads hire season has barely gotten going and the first incident of note has been racked up. This Barnes Brinkcraft hire boat, Brinks Prelude found itself wedged under Vauxhall Bridge in Great Yarmouth yesterday morning.

Now there really is little excuse for this error of judgement. The hire boats from this yard all have the air draft prominently displayed at the helm, we know this as it is the yard we always used. As well as this the stated air draft is a safety margin more than the real air draft, again we know this as we spent many hours talking with the staff over the many years that we hired from there. On top of this there are also several air draft gauges on the approach to the bridge and well before the bridge giving plenty of time to decide if the boat will go through, well before you arrive there.

We are giving silly season on the Broads another miss this year. As much as we miss the place and enjoy our visits it's clowns like this that really do ruin the enjoyment for the vast majority. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

That's Us

So yesterday I was perusing Google images looking for something completely unrelated and stumbled across this lovely picture of Naughty-Cal on the River Witham taken last year.

It was taken by the crew of NB Epiphany on their visit to the Fossdyke and Witham last year. I'm not sure where we would have been but it wasn't to sea as the bicycles are on the bow of the boat, so we must have been just mooching along on the river.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Somewhat Dismayed

As well as being extremely happy to have our pride and joy Naughty-Cal back in the water at the weekend we were also somewhat dismayed at the state of the Fossdyke. As we cruised along we were met with some quite frankly disgusting scenes of rubbish strewn everywhere.

2014 was cut short for us thanks to a ream of bailer binder which found it's way through the oil seals on the drive and we were shocked to see that this same plastic was still in the ditch despite Canal and Rivers Trust sending out a navigation notice about it shortly after we were pulled ashore in November 2014.

We will be really very annoyed if the oil seals meet the same fate so soon after being relaunched.

 The traffic cone that finished off our props last year still on the bank.

 Large clumps of bailer binding plastic still floating around in the water.

 Liam last November removing the props in Saxilby to release the plastic from the drive.

A picture taken by a fellow boater of the quite frankly disgusting state of the bank at Drinsey Nook.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

It's the Little Things

At the weekend we realised it's the little things that come together to make life onboard comfortable and relaxing and generally make being around the water relaxing and comforting.

We have tidied up quite a lot of small loose ends and odd jobs whilst Naughty-Cal has been out of the water, none of them seeming to be important jobs in themselves, but when all brought together they have made a big difference. 

Simple things like the mini makeover of the shower room, for example. The old taps were difficult to use so getting the right temperature for the water was nigh on impossible, the old shower head leaked slightly directing pressure elsewhere, the shower waste hose leaked pouring water into the bilges but also making the flow of water out of the shower room too slow to keep up with the flow of water into the shower room, result, soggy feet. With these few simple jobs and a couple more completed in there the whole process of taking a shower omboard was much more pleasant. 

Why didn't we fix it before? 

It never seemed overly important while we were afloat. There was always somewhere more exciting to be, more important to do. 

Perhaps the most noticable of the improvements we have made has been the addition of the blue lights. The photographs really don't do them justice as they focus on the light source too much, but in the flesh Cal now emits a soothing blue glow by night both inside and out. This was perhaps the cheapest of the jobs we undertook this winter, the lights were £25 and the remote control £5 but it has been one of the more noticable improvement, if not a bit of a pig to install at the time. But Liam's efforts have been worth it and we are really pleased with the results. 

Now to get somewhere we can use them to their full effect. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Back to Normaility

So it is back to normality for us and Naughty-Cal.

I am pleased to report that everything appears to be working as it should after all of the mechanical work over the winter. Cal performed perfectly over the weekend and was being suspiciously obedient despite the gusty winds.

As suspected Liam couldn't wait until next weekend to install the new inverter and set about it yesterday afternoon. In no time at all he had it all wired up and insitu in its new home beneath the cockpit seating where it will be sheltered from the elements and have enough room to breath freely. A quick test proved that it was more then man enough to run our little 1kw kettle with ease so in theory should also be plenty to run the 1kw element in the hot water tank. Now we just need to fit the new element and try it!

Back on the pontoons it was surprisingly busy with people waking their boats up ready for the season ahead, spring was really in the air and it felt good to be back.

As ever we still have a few bits and bobs to finish off before we are completely ready for a new season afloat. The engine is ready for a full service to include, fuel filters, oil and filter, all four belts, compressor oil, trim ram oil change, crank case filter and impellor and on top of this there are a few fixtures to replace, the retainer spring on the rear cockpit seat is dodgy so we have a new one to replace it and as the heavy inverter is now located under there we are going to add a second spring as well, the manual bilge pump needs servicing and the element in the hot water tank replacing. The last job will be scrubbing the canopies and resealing them with a couple of coats of Fabsil.

The list of jobs left to do isn't as long as in previous years by any means and with these few jobs completed we can officially claim everything onboard to be in full working order, although for how long is any ones guess.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Back in Action

Our mooring for last night right in the heart of Lincoln city centre.  So peaceful by night but getting busy with weekend shoppers now.

Friday, 6 March 2015


Today is the day that Naughty-Cal gets her bum wet once more.

It's been a long time coming but here's to many long and happy cruises in 2015.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Great Timing!

Yesterday my face decided to swell up to the size of a balloon, only on one side mind, not very symmetrical. And there the farce begins.

I rang the dentist surgery who said I had to go to the doctors first to check that it was a dental issue.

I rang the doctors surgery who couldn't get me an appointment until the 23rd March, yes that's right the 23rd!

So the final option was a visit to the Sheffield Hospitals Walk In Centre for minor injuries and ailments. Fill in your form and wait your turn, as it turned out the wait wasn't as long as some of the horror stories you hear and I was seen within and hour and a half. 

The doctor was none the wiser as to what was wrong but doesn't suspect a dental problem as there is very little pain which is usually associated with a dental abcess. So sent me away with a seven day course of antibiotics, luckily some that I can still drink in moderation with and a referal to the dental and facial hospital for further investigation once the infection has gone.

Beware the following picture is quite scary!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Veggie Lasagne

Last night I decided to rustle up a butternut squash and spinach lasagne. It's been a while since we last had one and it has to be one of my favourite vegetarian dishes that is nice and easy to prepare and make.

It has gotten to the point now where both Liam and I happily go out for food and choose a vegetarian meal rather then a meat eaters version, something we would never have dreamt of just a few years previous. 

Whilst we will never be true vegetarians we are now eating more and more veggie meals to the point where most meals I seem to have prepared for the last couple of weeks have been vegetable based! 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Scrubbing Up

Last night we made progress with the last few bits and bobs that need sorting before Friday.

The ropes were treated to a good wash in the washing machine to keep them clean and supple. This year we remembered to put them in pillow cases to stop them tangling up. We had a bit of a nightmare last year when we forgot this simple step!.

The ensign was also given a good wash in the washing machine along with the boat bedding. The spare bedroom currently resembles a Chinese laundry with various items of boating gear as well as work clothes hung up to dry. It's a no go zone today.

Liam took a good look over the new inverter which arrived yesterday. He doesn't think it will be as simple a task as simply switching it with the old one as the new unit is much larger and heavier and might not fit in the same location. The cables supplied with the new unit also won't be long enough if it is mounted in the same place so we will have to have a bit of a think about this one at the weekend.

We still have a few bits to clean up. Tonight I plan to scrub the fenders whilst Liam is going to give the electric oven a good clean. This has now come home for the summer and will be stored out of the way. 

So progress is being made at a quickening pace now. Before too long we will be once more at the helm navigating Naughty-Cal from shore to shore.